Citizen Claims Salem Leaders Wanted Phineas Stolen
SALEM, MO (KTVI)– It’s been a bizarre story from the get-go. A sweet looking golden lab seized from his family and deemed vicious by the Salem, Mo Mayor.
That was in June of 2012. The case is now being fought in the courts.
On Monday, Phineas was moved to a Dent County veterinarian where the dog will be cared for until a decision is made.
We were allowed to video tape the dog on Tuesday and the dog appeared to be in good health.
A Save Phineas Facebook page had nearly 100,000 fans as of Tuesday evening. That’s more than 15 times the number of fans for a Facebook page for the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.
Salem mayor, Gary Brown, says he’s received hundreds of calls from people wanting to adopt the dog. He adds that there has been false information about what happened. He says the dog bit a neighbor girl while that neighbor was leaving the property of the owners of Phineas.
He showed us a photo of the injury caused by the bite. He also said the dog had bitten before. The dog owners` attorney disputes that the dog had bitten before and says those were playful nips.
Salem resident Jackie Overby claims she was approached by the Salem city administrator with a plan that involved leaving Phineas in an unsecure area so that the dog would be taken and the publicity would be gone.
Overby called Mayor Brown and secretly recorded her conversation with him. On that recording, the mayor is heard responding to Overby`s questions about instructions given by the city administrator.
(Click the audio player below to listen to the full conversation)
Here’s a part of that conversation.
Overby: So is everybody on board with what he talked to me about with the dog?
Mayor Brown: Uh, Well
I don’t know what he talked to you about. He said that he…
Mayor Brown: He said he talked, uh , Let me just let me do this…
Mayor Brown: You ask, you ask me a question and if I can answer that, I will tell you…
Overby: That sounds great. He told me that they`re going to put the dog back in the pound today. And that if it goes missing, it just goes missing.
Mayor Brown: Okay
Overby: And that was my clue that it just needs to be gone. And he said that he had talked to you and that you okayed that.
Mayor Brown: We were okay with that.
Overby: Okay, All right.
Mayor Brown denied he supported any plan that would allow Phineas to be taken. The city administrator is on vacation.
“How sweet that would be but then the other side of that is that we would be held responsible if the dog came up missing,” Brown said.
After we told him about Overby’s secret recording he said he might have wished the dog was gone but never okayed any plan for someone to take it.
“I said if something would happen, it would go away, it would go away,” explained Brown. “We can’t do that.”
Joe Simon, the attorney for the owners of Phineas feels the tape shows that the city is growing weary about the attention surrounding Phineas.
“I think everybody there knows that the dog is not vicious and it`s now just a matter of pride and that they won’t admit that they’re wrong,” said Simon.
He predicts the publicity could adversely affect the image of Salem. The mayor says his town is safer because of the efforts to keep vicious dogs off the streets. Brown says the city will abide by whatever the courts decide.